Talent Acquisition and Retention

Mike Langlois | Tuesday January 11, 2023

Here is a topic getting a lot of press these days.  With so many companies looking for everything from Doctors and Pilots to Entry-Level Workers, the whole country and even the world is desperate for hiring staff, to a point where wages are soaring through the roof.  I thought paying $15.00 per hour to flip burgers was one of the craziest notions I had ever heard of just a few years ago.  Currently, a local McDonald’s has a big sign out front offering starting salaries at $18.00 to $20.00 an hour.  With the combination of a shortage of candidates along with this generation’s willingness to jump to a new company every year – meaning better pay, more time off, and/or remote working capabilities - Talent Acquisition and Retention have become one of our top daily priorities.  Sprinkle in the escalation of time off required by our current workers due to COVID-related illness or exposure, and it is sometimes tough just to get through the needed daily work, which in the healthcare Supply Chain, typically can’t be put off until tomorrow. 

So, what can we do to attract talent?  Today’s workers are looking for good pay, flexible work schedule, remote working capabilities, increased benefits and time off, and a favorable working environment if they need to be on-site, all typically challenging within the Healthcare Supply Chain environment.  Odds are you will need to create an excellent work environment and rely on current staff or those close to your area of responsibility to promote jobs to friends and family. It has been hard to compete with other industries for quality staff for many years and in today’s environment, it has been extremely difficult. Recruiting from our Colleges has proven to produce very high-potential employees, but they still need training time and we run the risk of flight after that training. Getting them in the door is only half the battle. Retention is the second challenge.

So, what can we do to retain our talent?  Create an excellent work environment, be an advocate for routine wage rate and benefits reviews and adjustments and create a clear career growth path.  Open, frequent, and honest communication directly with your staff, regardless of their position, I have found, is very appreciated by most staff members.  I had a suggestion from one of my staff members years ago that they liked hearing things directly from the horse’s mouth. This created my weekly email to all the staff called… “From the Horse’s Mouth.”  It took me about an hour every Friday to craft this email, which included highlights from the week that I thought they might be interested in, coming events, and recognition of key employee accomplishments. Although rare, when I did miss a Friday, I heard about it which gave me great solace that my time was appreciated.  We also did a monthly newsletter, titled, “Material World.”  This focused almost exclusively on the staff - Birthday and Anniversary recognition, personal accomplishments that they wanted to share, etc.  It gave them a sense of connection to the entire staff that made them feel good.  These among other things like rounding often, even on midnights, development of a program whereby the staff could formally recognize others, and frequent celebration events with food, led to what I humbly characterize as a pretty good working environment.  I never was short on requests for transfers into our department.

I hope sharing my perspective and experience helps at least one of you with your staffing challenges.  Unfortunately, labor shortages don’t appear to be letting up any time soon.  Good Luck!